Pen Canada hit with audit by Canada Revenue Agency, joining other charity groups critical of Harper government
The Canada Revenue Agency has launched a political-activities audit of Pen Canada, a small charity promoting freedom of expression that has criticized the Harper government in the past.
Two tax auditors showed up Monday morning at the tiny Toronto offices of Pen Canada, asking to see a wide range of internal documents.
Pen Canada’s president, Philip Slayton, says the tax agency gave notice of the audit two or three months ago, and that the group is “fully co-operating.”
Pen Canada represents more than 1,000 writers and supporters, including Canadian literary luminaries Margaret Atwood and Yann Martel, and presses for freedom of expression at home and abroad.
The group has been highly critical of the Harper government in recent years for the muzzling of scientists on the public payroll, and for alleged spying on Canadian citizens in concert with U.S. eavesdropping agencies.
This latest political-activity audit is among more than 50 that the agency has begun since 2012, which some critics have said creates an “advocacy chill” as charities self-censor for fear of losing their ability to raise funds through tax-deductible donations.
The wave of audits was announced by the federal government in the 2012 budget, and some groups have been under threat of losing their charitable status for more than two years. The list of targets includes Amnesty International Canada, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Canada Without Poverty, and the David Suzuki Foundation.
The Canada Revenue Agency says its work is conducted without political direction from government. (Source: National Post)
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